Helping others through words, activities and horses

Thursday, August 19, 2021
Helping others through words, activities and horses

Deanna Stevenson relaxes with her husband, Jake, and two children. Photo courtesy of Kate Loose and Deanna Stevenson

Helping others through words, activities and horses

Deanna Stevenson

Deanna Stevenson grew up in Forsyth and moved to Lewistown in 2011. She married Jake Stevenson and has been living at Stevenson Angus Ranch in Hobson since 2013.

“There have been a few stops on the way,” Stevenson said. “I went to college in Bozeman for six years, worked in Billings at a residential campus, my first real job, and I worked in the schools through a CSCT (comprehensive school and community treatment) program.”

Stevenson said she likes Forsyth and Hobson a lot, as opposed to a bigger city like Bozeman where there are stop lights. With the small towns, she doesn’t have to wait in traffic and deal with long lines.

Stevenson is a licensed clinical professional counselor, helping people with many problems they may have, including anxiety, grief, anger management and many more. Her first goal was to be a doctor, but soon found that psychiatry was a better fit for her.

“I thought I wanted to be a doctor in college, but getting blood drawn made me pass out,” Stevenson said. “I wanted to help people, so was drawn to psych. I kept going and got my master’s degree in counseling. I always wanted to help people, but couldn’t handle blood.”

Making meaningful connections and helping people through their struggles by allowing themselves to be vulnerable and open is one thing Stevenson enjoys most about her job.

“I am honored they share their stories with me,” Stevenson said. “I love to see the growth in clients. It’s neat to see people I’ve worked with thriving and to see meaningful changes and have that trust with people.”

Among Stevenson’s skills in therapy includes animals. She uses dog and equine therapy to help some of her clients.

She trained in Bozeman through EAGALA (Equine Assisted Growth And Learning Association). It’s an experiential form of therapy.

“We go out with horses, and I give a task to do, such as design an obstacle course for the horse and bring them through it,” Stevenson said. “There are challenges and people’s stuff comes up in different ways. If something is hard, some people quit and that will happen in the arena. Or we work on their communication if they shut down. After the task, we talk about it and pull what people need to work on after.”

Stevenson said equine therapy is not about therapists or horses doing any profound thinking. It’s people having experiences that fit them. Dogs and horses are social animals and communicate through body language, and pick up a lot.

“If I’m uncomfortable or frustrated, the horse will run the other way,” Stevenson said. “If I’m calm and present, they come near. They pick up on nonverbal communication.”

Stevenson works horse camps in the summer for the Boys and Girls Club as pro bono volunteer work. There, the kids learn about working on the farm and riding horses.

Aside from work, Stevenson loves doing things in the outdoors, both with and without horses.

“I’m learning to do roping in my downtime and having fun trying,” Stevenson said. “I enjoy camping with my family and porch sitting. We go to Ackley Lake and do a bit of hiking. Golf is one thing Jake and I enjoy doing together, when we can. I also really love yoga.”

Stevenson said the thing she is looking forward to the most this summer is enjoying her family.

“Right now, our kids are little at five and one years old, so we are enjoying our weekends while we still have them,” Stevenson said. “The next years they will be doing softball and other activities, so having time on the ranch and camping will be great.”

One of the things Stevenson enjoys most about her family is doing many activities together, especially on the ranch.

“When I was a kid, I wanted to be a zookeeper, and I think I accomplished that,” Stevenson said. “We have horses, a pony, mini dinkey, therapy dog, chickens, ducks, cows and calfs all around. There’s a lot of fun things to do that the whole family is part of.”

Stevenson said she enjoys the balance in life right now between work and family.

“I’m doing meaningful work through counseling, which was all online and phone last year, while helping with the ranch,” Stevenson said. My adult brain can be a grown up, but also have a slow morning where we can go paint some rocks. It’s a good balance.”

Editor’s Note: “Faces of the Basin” is a column designed to help us get to know each other better and highlight our residents’ interesting experiences. If you know someone who you would like to nominate for “Faces of the Basin,” please contact Judith Basin Press Editor Melody Montgomery by phone (566-2741), by email ( or stop by the Press Office.